Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mentoring is key to professional success

It’s a fact: people who have mentors are more likely to achieve significant success than those without. The same goes for people who mentor other people.

So how do you find one, or add another to your existing ones?

It’s different for everyone because it depends on what you want to get out of the relationship – and what you can put into it. I personally have three and they have all helped me in very different ways.

At the beginning of my career, I realized that a solid understanding of finance was sorely lacking in my educational curriculum – who knew that this management psychology major was going to head into a solid business and marketing career path? So my first choice of mentor was the company president, who had an extensive finance background, and he taught me how finance is, indeed, the language of business. His return on investment? Personal satisfaction that one of his staff was able to achieve significant success at his company… and beyond.

I found my second mentor while doing due diligence with a buyer of one of my publications. I was so impressed with her ability to cut through the stacks and stacks of data and get to the nuggets of what was really important I asked if I could work with her on a few acquisitions. Yes, I had a full time job so I had to work with her on weekends, but what I learned from the experience – how to take data and turn it into management information – has benefited me enormously. What my mentor got out of the process was a deeper understanding of the publishing business, an area she was planning on growing her business around.

My third mentor was someone I admired enormously. A business leader, a philanthropist, a visionary. I ran into him at a reception at an industry conference and pulled together the courage to go up to him and tell him how much I respected him and his company. He graciously started inviting me to his monthly “expert” dinners where there was always a controversial topic at the table being discussed by experts from a diverse range of industries. He helped me learn perspective, how to listen, and to appreciate multiple view points. What did he get out of the relationship? He is passionate about seeing the world through others’ eyes and I believe he enjoyed the “lens” I provided at the dinners.

Your next mentor could be anywhere: in your company; in your professional network; at your church; in your family; sitting across from you at your next business function or….

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blog posts from social media and marketing guru Seth Godin are one of my favorite ways to start the day.  On June 10 he published the following list of things to consider before sending email.  We've all seen and made some of the gaffes this list helps cure:

Before you hit send on that next email, perhaps you should run down this list, just to be sure:
  1. Is it going to just one person? (If yes, jump to #10)
  2. Since it's going to a group, have I thought about who is on my list?
  3. Are they blind copied?
  4. Did every person on the list really and truly opt in? Not like sort of, but really ask for it?
  5. So that means that if I didn't send it to them, they'd complain about not getting it?
  6. See #5. If they wouldn't complain, take them off!
  7. That means, for example, that sending bulk email to a list of bloggers just cause they have blogs is not okay.
  8. Aside: the definition of permission marketing: Anticipated, personal and relevant messages delivered to people who actually want to get them. Nowhere does it say anything about you and your needs as a sender. Probably none of my business, but I'm just letting you know how I feel. (And how your prospects feel).
  9. Is the email from a real person? If it is, will hitting reply get a note back to that person? (if not, change it please).
  10. Have I corresponded with this person before?
  11. Really? They've written back? (if no, reconsider email).
  12. If it is a cold-call email, and I'm sure it's welcome, and I'm sure it's not spam, then don't apologize. If I need to apologize, then yes, it's spam, and I'll get the brand-hurt I deserve.
  13. Am I angry? (If so, save as draft and come back to the note in one hour).
  14. Could I do this note better with a phone call?
  15. Am I blind-ccing my boss? If so, what will happen if the recipient finds out?
  16. Is there anything in this email I don't want the attorney general, the media or my boss seeing? (If so, hit delete).
  17. Is any portion of the email in all caps? (If so, consider changing it.)
  18. Is it in black type at a normal size?
  19. Do I have my contact info at the bottom? (If not, consider adding it).
  20. Have I included the line, "Please save the planet. Don't print this email"? (If so, please delete the line and consider a job as a forest ranger or flight attendant).
  21. Could this email be shorter?
  22. Is there anyone copied on this email who could be left off the list?
  23. Have I attached any files that are very big? (If so, google something like 'send big files' and consider your options.)
  24. Have I attached any files that would work better in PDF format?
  25. Are there any :-) or other emoticons involved? (If so, reconsider).
  26. Am I forwarding someone else's mail? (If so, will they be happy when they find out?)
  27. Am I forwarding something about religion (mine or someone else's)? (If so, delete).
  28. Am I forwarding something about a virus or worldwide charity effort or other potential hoax? (If so, visit snopes and check to see if it's 'actually true).
  29. Did I hit 'reply all'? If so, am I glad I did? Does every person on the list need to see it?
  30. Am I quoting back the original text in a helpful way? (Sending an email that says, in its entirety, "yes," is not helpful).
  31. If this email is to someone like Seth, did I check to make sure I know the difference between its and it's? Just wondering.
  32. If this is a press release, am I really sure that the recipient is going to be delighted to get it? Or am I taking advantage of the asymmetrical nature of email--free to send, expensive investment of time to read or delete?
  33. Are there any little animated creatures in the footer of this email? Adorable kittens? Endangered species of any kind?
  34. Bonus: Is there a long legal disclaimer at the bottom of my email? Why?
  35. Bonus: Does the subject line make it easy to understand what's to come and likely it will get filed properly?
  36. If I had to pay 42 cents to send this email, would I?
Great stuff, Seth.  I particularly like the last one.  There are more great reads at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How Your Personal Brand and Online Presence Can Combat Ageism

Many jobseekers prepare and post resumes with the phrase “More than 30 years experience…” and “A seasoned executive.” These phrases are only “code” for “I am an older candidate” which we all know can be the kiss of death. We also know that it is a common belief in both recruiting and employer circles that if you are over 50 you are likely neither technically savvy nor capable of top performance.
Au contraire!  Most of us who are over 50 would beg to differ. The notion comes from relevance of age and athletic ability. As we all know, when we get older our physical abilities may be affected but our minds certainly are not.

In fact, age 50+ is, for most, the peak of their knowledge, leadership, and performance ability. You must get in front of the employer to prove your capabilities to them and eliminate this stereotype. Your only way of doing this is by skillfully managing and crafting your personal brand and your online presence.

How do you define your personal brand?  It’s far more than a well-written resume.  It also encompasses your online presence (Google search results, online CV, blogs you write or contribute to, your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles…and more!).  

1    1.  Google search results

          When was the last time you “googled” yourself?  An astonishingly high 22% never 
          had and 16% had done so only once.  Trust me, folks, any employer or recruiter 
          is going to do just that if your resume passes muster! 

          If you don’t like what you see, or don’t see enough, you need to curate your results.  
          Some people, especially those with common names, even do their own Google 
          advertising in order to get found.  Others use Vizibility to help.

2.      2.  LinkedIn

It is critically important that, if you’re going to join LinkedIn, that you spend time and thought on your profile, on your contacts, on your recommendations, on your posts and the groups that you join.  Employers and recruiters often go here first after doing a Google search for you.  You have a substantial opportunity to make a great impression here IF you have put it together thoughtfully and strategically.  

3.      3.  Tweet, tweet, tweet!

No it’s not just for Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton.  This is the medium that most “older” executives are the least comfortable with.  Here’s how to think about Twitter and its place amid the social media channels:  LinkedIn is the boardroom; Facebook is the barbecue; MySpace is the bar; and Twitter is the water cooler.  I don’t know about you but my personal favorite source of news and insights is at the water cooler!  Use Twitter to send updates on information of interest to you and your network; retweet posts you appreciate; follow people you admire; and contribute.  The more you contribute, the larger your network, the more likely Google is to pick up your online presence in this very important channel.

4.      4.  Blogs

If you don’t have one, consider posting to them.  Again, this is an important piece in your online presence.   How “dated” could your experience be if you’re plugging in to a blog or 3 on a regular basis?  This shows connectedness, that you’re savvy vis a vis social media, and that you are plugged into what’s going on right now.

Bottom line:  People do not care how old or overweight a ball player as long as they score!

Your online presence must show the employer that if you are given the ball, you will score…and that you HAVE scored.  That will help prevent the employer from categorizing you as less capable due to your age.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are Recruiters Searching For You On Google?

Absolutely they are.  More than 85% of recruiters report "Googling" candidates as part of the search process today and almost half of them have eliminated candidates based on what appears (or does not appear) about them online.

A smart job seeker wants to leave nothing to chance, but many feel helpless when it comes to controlling the search results of their own name. Here are three of the most common challenges that people face:
    • Making a strong first impression is important but this can be difficult without controlling the priorities of the returned results. For example, if being on the board at your condo association is ranked at the top of the results and the press release of your record sales with your previous company is buried, then that’s a problem.
    • Mistaken identity is also a big challenge for many, especially for people with a common name. The recruiter can easily become confused by what information is about you, or someone else. This confusion can be especially dangerous if someone with a bad online reputation shares a name with you.
    • Being anonymous online is not a good way to avoid these challenges either, as not having a presence online can be worse. When a recruiter searches you and cannot find any information on you, then it makes it harder for them to establish a trust with the information you provided in your resume.
In a recent survey of 6FigureJobs members, 22% had never Googled themselves and 16% had done so only once. Trust me, folks, any employer or recruiter is going to do just that if your resume passes muster!

Your online presence matters, and search results can change daily. When you search yourself you’ll find online CV, articles you have written or that have been written about you, blogs you write or contribute to, social network profiles, Twitter, press releases and sometimes a few surprises.

How can you take control?
There's an easy to use and very cool service out there called Vizibility.  What this nifty service does is let you “curate” the results that are returned when someone Googles you. Not that you’re trying to hide anything, of course, but you want to make sure that the results are RELEVANT to employers and recruiters.

Not only do you get a chance to curate your results, you also get to pick the “Top 5” results you want to appear first. Obviously, we recommend you select information pertinent to search or networking.

If you use Vizibility you don’t need to search yourself daily to find out what’s out there in cyberspace about you. Vizibility sends you an alert when the results change or when new information about you has been posted online.

Worth a look at www.vizibility.com